The hip joint is the largest joint of the human body. It is a ball and socket joint. The thigh bone (femur) ends with a rounded projection or ball (femoral head), which fits into the socket (acetabulum) of the pelvic girdle. Both the ball and socket are lined with cushioning tissue called cartilage.
Symptoms of a hip problem may include:
- pain in the hip joint (usually felt in the groin area)
- referred pain to the thigh and knee
- reduced range of motion
- muscle stiffness
- pain when trying to put weight through the leg on the affected side.
- Osteoarthritis: The most common form of hip arthritis, osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. In hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage that lines the acetabulum and/or covers the surface of the femoral head breaks down causing the bones to rub against each other. This may result in pain, stiffness, the loss of movement and the formation of bony overgrowths called spurs. Pain from hip osteoarthritis is often felt in the groin area and front of the thigh. Stiffness may be worst after periods of inactivity.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints that occurs when body’s immune system – which normally protects us from infection – mistakenly attacks the synovium, the thin membrane that lines the joints. Symptoms of hip rheumatoid arthritis include pain, redness, swelling and warmth of the affected hip joints. Unchecked, inflammation can lead to hip joint damage loss of function and disability. In addition to the hips, rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the knees, hands, wrists, feet, elbows and ankles.
- Juvenile arthritis: Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe arthritis when it begins before age 16. There are several different types of juvenile arthritis. Many can cause hip joint pain and swelling.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, causing inflammation in the spine that can lead to chronic pain and stiffening of the spine. Often other joints are affected. Aside from the spine, the hip is the joint most commonly affected by ankylosing spondylitis.
- Infectious arthritis: Also called septic arthritis, infectious arthritis refers to arthritis that is caused by an infection within the joint. Infectious arthritis is often cause by bacteria that spread through the bloodstream to the joint. Sometimes it is caused by viruses or fungi.
- Gout: Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when excess uric acid, a bodily waste product circulating in the bloodstream, is deposited as needle-shaped monosodium urate crystals in tissues of the body, including the joints. For many people, the first symptom of gout is excruciating pain and swelling in the big toe – often following a trauma, such as an illness or injury. Subsequent attacks may occur off and on in other joints, primarily those of the foot and knee. Gout less commonly causes hip pain.
- Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and the nerve roots and spinal cord become compressed. Because not all patients with spinal narrowing develop symptoms, the term “spinal stenosis” actually refers to the symptoms of pain and not to the narrowing itself.
- Polymyalgia rheumatica: An inflammatory disorder that causes widespread muscle pain and stiffness, polymyalgia rheumatica mainly affects the neck, shoulders, upper arms, thighs and hips. The disease often comes on suddenly and resolves on its own in a year or two.
- Osteonecrosis: Also called avascular necrosis or aseptic necrosis, this condition occurs when diminished blood to an area of bone causes it to die and eventually collapse. Blood flow may be blocked due to a number of causes including a clot, blood vessel inflammation or use of corticosteroid drugs. The hip is one of the most commonly affected joints.
- Sciatica: This is inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The largest nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve runs from the lower part of the spinal cord, through the buttock and down the back of the leg to the foot. The most common causes of sciatica include compression of the nerve where it exits the spine by a herniated disc, or a rupture of one of the structures that cushions the vertebrae in the spine. Sciatica may be felt as a sharp or burning pain that radiates from the hip.